Courage (Part 2)

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47 ESV). Here’s another photo of a water rescue from Hurricane Harvey. I am struck by the pain and anguish on the faces of the victims and the determination and strength of the rescuers. Such must have been the situation when David comes to the battle lines between Israel and the Philistines. We should understand where David’s courage came from; we should ask why Saul and his soldiers lacked that courage. On the surface, the answer seems simple. Goliath is reported to have been nine-feet tall and incredibly strong (cf. vv. 4-7). He was a highly trained and experienced far beyond any of the Israelites. Fighting Goliath looked like suicide, plain and simple. But it is not so plain and simple. First of all, because fighting Goliath didn’t look like suicide to David because he knew these men believed in God and knew Israel’s history. They knew the stories, how God had overcome one giant adversary after another. Many of them had personally seen God do amazing things. No, the men lacked courage to face Goliath because at this moment the men lacked faith. At this moment, for whatever reason, despite all the stories and past experiences, Goliath looked bigger than God. Each man believed that if he went out against this humungous human, he would be on his own (cf. v. 44). So what made David different? It was not because he had a self-generated, raw, cool courage of a hero. What fueled David’s courage was his confidence in God’s promises and God’s power to fulfill them. In the preceding chapter, Samuel the prophet had informed David that God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel and anointed him with his brothers around him (cf. 1 Samuel 16:13). And, he drew additional confidence by remembering how God had helped him in the past (cf. 1 Samuel 17:34-36). This reality was David’s courage wellspring. He was not self-confident; he was God-confident. David believed that God would never break his promise, and if Goliath made himself an obstacle to God’s promise, God could flick him out of the way with a pebble. David saw God as bigger and stronger than the fearful Philistine. So he went out to fight knowing that God would give him victory over Goliath; and, when he did, the victory would demonstrate God’s power and faithfulness, not David’s courage. We are going to see the ultimate proof of this deep wellspring of strength in Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is the real truth of this story; for now, please cling to the truth that God is bigger than anything you may face and he is working it all to your...

read more